California parents who are getting a divorce might wonder whether shared parenting would work for them or if it would be disruptive for their children. Some people might think that because they are in a high-conflict relationship, they will be unable to manage shared parenting. However, studies show that neither of these assumptions is true.
According to one researcher and expert in shared parenting, when asked, children say they would rather have the disruption of moving between their parents’ homes rather than see one parent infrequently. Studies show that shared parenting is the most beneficial arrangement for children. There is no evidence that it is harmful for even an infant or toddler to spend some nights with one parent and some with the other.
Parenting arrangements involving sole custody tend to have higher conflict than those in which there is shared parenting. This appears to be the case even if the parents’ relationship in a joint custody arrangement is contentious and the arrangement was mandated in court rather than being decided upon by the parents. In fact, a shared parenting arrangement may actually help reduce the conflict between ex-spouses. Furthermore, when children are able to create strong bonds with both parents because of a shared parenting arrangement, they tend to be less affected by parental conflict.
Strong emotions may be a part of child custody negotiations because it is difficult for parents to contemplate having their time with their children cut roughly in half. It might be tempting for someone to fight for sole custody on this emotional basis, but it could help to keep in mind that this is probably not in the best interests of the child. Parents who are struggling to resolve conflict in a child custody dispute might want to consider an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation.